Health Impacts

The health impact research supports the FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies (FCVT) Program mission by ensuring that more energy-efficient advanced combustion engine technologies are environmentally friendly and do not produce adverse health impacts. Past experience has shown that new, “clean” high-efficiency vehicle and fuel technologies can have unforeseen negative environmental and health impacts. By proactively investigating the impacts of changes in fuel, engine, and aftertreatment technologies on the ecosystem and human health, such negative impacts could be prevented.

Research Goal

The research goal is to provide a sound scientific basis for the relationship between mobile source emissions from new vehicle technologies (engines, fuels, aftertreatment, and engine operating conditions or vehicle drive cycles) and their impacts on health. More specifically, the aim is to identify and quantify potential health hazards associated with the use of new fuels and new technologies introduced into transportation vehicle engines.


Work focuses on developing accurate measurement methods and tools to determine the impacts of changes in fuels, engines, and aftertreatment devices on toxics compounds or particles emitted and their potential health hazards. These tools can be applied to:

  • Characterize the physical and chemical properties of vehicle emissions and possibly differentiate emissions from various mobile sources (such as gasoline-, diesel-, natural gas-fueled vehicles).
  • Conduct rapid toxicity tests on samples to determine potential for cancer and non-cancer effects.
  • Compare the types and potencies of toxic emissions from fuels (such as gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and other fuels), engine types, and operating conditions.
  • Integrate the analytical and toxicity results from exposure to complex mixtures of gases and particles which comprise engine emissions into understanding associations between toxicity and physical-chemical composition.

The emphasis of this work is to place transportation emissions into the proper context, by providing a balance to the portfolio of health research conducted by and assertions made by other organizations.


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